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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Clashes erupted during Friday Islamist demonstrations in Egypt’s Cairo

Islamist rally in Cairo 

Egypt’s Islamist forces including the most influential Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood participated on Friday, 19 April, in the demonstrations aiming to “purge” the judiciary in Egypt. 

There were three key demands of the Friday’s Islamists’ rallies which included purging of the state’s judiciary by cleaning it form the corrupt figures, bringing to trial all those responsible for the killings of the protesters during January 25 Revolution and restoring the stolen funds of Egypt. In addition to that the rallies of the Islamist forces have been also calling for Shura Council (Upper House of Egypt’s Parliament) to pass the new judiciary law.

Thousands of the Islamists and their supporters have gathered on Friday in Cairo’s downtown, in front of the building of the Egypt’s High Court, and their numbers were grown after the Friday noon prayers.

The demonstrations were peaceful until the unknown rivals appeared on the stage starting to attack the Muslim Brotherhood’s protesters. The attackers have reportedly used firearms and stones, while the Muslim Brotherhood protesters were throwing the stones. But, according to some reporters, like, for example, Ahram Online, some of the Islamists’ protesters have been seen using the firearms as well.

Clashes during the Islamist rally on Friday
The clashes continued during several hours, with some buses and vehicles torched in the neighborhood of Tahrir Square in Cairo. The Central Security Forces deployed in the area tried to disperse the crowds and the stop the clashes, but they were accused by several Islamists forces of appearing too late and being not active enough.

The numbers of injured people reached at least 98 people, according to Egypt’s Health Ministry.

I’d also like to share here Ahram Online’s detailed report on the Friday’s events. The article was originally posted here.

Street battles in Cairo leave dozens injured after Islamist protest

Dozens injured as Islamist protesters clash with unknown rivals near Egypt's High Court in Cairo; firearms used and at least 95 injured

Ahram Online, Friday 19 Apr 2013

Clashes broke out between Islamist protesters and unknown opponents near Cairo's High Court on Friday, leaving dozens injured.

Thousands of Islamist protesters were holding a rally before the High Court in downtown Cairo to demand the "purge of Egypt's judiciary" when clashes erupted.

It is still unclear how the clashes started. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party's website accused members of 'Black Bloc,' a term used to describe masked men wearing black, of inciting the clashes.

The Brotherhood also said attackers used live ammunition, teargas and birdshot against Islamist protesters. Some Islamist demonstrators on the field confirmed the story to Ahram Online.

Unknown attackers of the Islamist rally using the firearms
A video shot by Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news portal indeed showed some of the Islamists' opponents using firearms.

And while the Islamists were mainly throwing stones, Ahram Online captured footage of two men on their side using firearms as well.

Live television footage also showed Islamists' opponents firing teargas canisters, around an hour before the police intervened to separate both sides.

Meanwhile, Ahram Online's reporter saw angry Islamist protesters catching an opponent and badly beating him in Ramses Street near the High Court after cornering him against a wall.

Several online videos showed other violent assaults by Islamists on young men. Accounts on social networks claim that Islamists caught by their opponents received the same treatment.

In the melee, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s buses parked in the nearby Abdel-Moneim Riyadh was torched.

Mohamed Sultan, the head of the Egyptian Ambulance Organisation (affiliated to the health ministry), stated that the injury toll reached at least 95 while no deaths have been reported so far.

Several Central Security Forces (CSF) vehicles were greeted by Islamist protesters upon their arrival before the High Court.

Demonstrators soon called on their fellow colleagues to retreat from the site of the clashes to allow the police to target the "assaulters."

Other Islamist protesters were blaming the policemen for showing up late, asking them to come down hard on the "assailants" attacking their "peaceful" protest.

Clashes during the Friday Islamist rally in Cairo
The podium of the protest announced the end of the demonstration by dusk, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-Language news website.

Clashes kept re-erupting for hours at night in Ramses Street and the nearby Abdel-Moneim Street as police sought to clear the area.

The interior ministry, after hours of clashes, called on all political forces taking part in the clashes "not to resort to violence and avoid bloodshed and possible deaths."

"The ministry is doing its best to avoid an escalation of the matter... in light of the ongoing tub-thumping which contravenes the traditions of the Egyptian society," the ministry said in a statement.

Thousands of Islamist protesters gathered earlier on Friday to demand the purging of state institutions, recovery of state funds and holding to account those responsible for the killing of protesters in the 2011 January revolution.

The protest, which was peaceful before the Islamists' unknown rivals appeared, had been called for by the Muslim Brotherhood and joined by other Islamist forces such as Al-Watan party, the Salafist Front Al-Asala Party, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail's Al-Raya Party, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party, the Reform Party, and the People's Party.

Islamists believe Egypt's judiciary is hindering the country's transition to democracy. They are also angry after several Hosni Mubarak-era officials were freed recently.